A group of distinguished and dedicated energy experts has composed and signed a letter to President Obama in support of a recent call by a group of eleven US Senators to convene a Nuclear Energy Summit. Here is the full text of the July 4, 2010 letter along with the initial list of signatories. (Note: The text in bold and italics is intended to be an accurate reproduction of the printed letter using available html formatting code.)
July 4th, 2010
To: The President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Subject: Nuclear Energy Summit
Dear President Obama,
We write to you in support of the recent call by a bi-partisan group of eleven US Senators to convene a Nuclear Energy Summit. Although 62% of the American public favors building more nuclear plants now, full realization of our Nuclear Renaissance is severely restrained by a number of shackles that we can remove if we have the will and the wit. Three key steps could be initiated quickly. These would stimulate both job growth and further activity:
1. Decide to license, build and operate one or two nuclear power plants as soon as possible. The speed and effectiveness of our new licensing system is untested. Will it become bogged down for years, as it did in the 1970s? Will it pile on unreasonable restrictions? How capable are our new construction teams? Until such questions are answered, the entire nuclear future is clouded with uncertainty. To give it the best chance, we should start with a design with the fewest unanswered regulatory questions. Technological innovation is not the issue here.
2. Encourage the exploration of small reactor plants of 300 MW or less, for use in a wide variety of applications, including modular power plant units, process heat, ship propulsion, and power for remote communities. Ways must be developed to enable discussions with regulators, without exorbitant cost and time delays. This is potentially a very innovative and constructive activity, with most of the work done in American factories by American workers.
3. At the same time, we should reinstate our program to develop and demonstrate the technology conceived by Enrico Fermi and his colleagues. It was their intent to extract virtually all of the energy contained in uranium by using fast-spectrum reactors operating on recycled fuel. It was never intended that we would limit our nuclear power capability indefinitely to the approximately 1% recovery that we achieve now. And as a bonus, this technology transforms nuclear waste from the perceived 10,000-year problem to a 500-year solution.
None of these ideas is new or controversial. This is the way the nuclear enterprise was envisioned from the beginning. There is really no other sensible way to run it. France, Russia, China, India, Korea, and Japan are already firing up the next generation of nuclear plants, derived and improved from designs we created in our youth more than half a century ago. Over 400 commercial nuclear power plants, and a comparable number of naval vessels, have operated for decades with unprecedented reliability and radiological safety. No non-nuclear system works as well. The principle of breeding more fuel than is used has also been widely demonstrated in several countries, including the U.S. Liquid metal-cooled, fast-spectrum technology is also demonstrated by extended operation of the FFTF in Washington State and the EBR II in Idaho.
What then is holding us back? Certainly not any inherent or unavoidable problems. Other nations have answered that question, and are already pouring concrete. Radical new ideas are not what’s missing. We need to start building more of what we know how to build, and restore some development and demonstration projects that were interrupted in mid-flight. America has unnecessarily shackled itself with some avoidable burdens. Some problems that look difficult can be seen on closer inspection to be clouded with false perceptions and contradictions.
For example, though some critics claim that nuclear power is inherently uneconomical, several European countries are finding that nuclear power is so reliably profitable that they plan to impose heavy “windfall profit fees” or “unearned income penalties,” and the practice is spreading. The German government announced June 15 that it was imposing an annual tax of Eur 2.3 Billion ($2.8 B) on its modest-sized nuclear industry, and that this “will not reduce the credit quality of nuclear companies reporting earnings of Eur 8.6 and 9.2 Billion ($10 & 11 Billion).” This is not limited to Europe; the Attorney General of Connecticut also proposed such a tax. Nuclear’s competitors are said to be suffering from unfair competition, because they face problems and uncertainties that nuclear plants don’t encounter. This gives us reason to challenge claims that nuclear power is inherently uneconomical, but we certainly don’t support punitive taxes on activity that benefits society.
A lot of information needed to make these decisions is not widely known. Bringing it to decision-makers will require establishing a good working relationship between policy makers and project managers and engineers experienced in these technologies, whose number is few and diminishing. When the Nuclear Energy Summit personnel have been selected, we would like to send further information on America’s long and varied experience with fast-spectrum reactors, liquid metal systems, fuel-breeding, fuel reprocessing, and the like, in addition to what will be needed to get such programs back up to speed. If the relevant facts can be made clear enough, and we bring together the right people, some of these burdens should not be beyond our power to deal with quickly. This is one area of great national interest where significant progress is realistically attainable. Nuclear power is a technology invented and developed in America. The rest of the world is bringing it to their people. We need to get moving!
|Theodore Rockwell||Leonard J. Koch|
|Member, National Academy of Engineering||Global Energy International Prize Laureate 2004|
Additional signatories – in alphabetical order (as of July 4, 2010)
Rod Adams, Commander USN, Served as Engineer Officer on USS Von Steuben
Irfan Ali, President & CEO, Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC)
Joe W. Anderson, Quality Assurance Manager, Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project
Charles Boardman, Cisler Medal Recipient, American Nuclear Society
Edgar T. Brooks, LT, USN Ret. Past Member Naval Reactor Representatives Office (AEC)
Douglas M. Chapin, Member, National Academy of Engineering
Robert N. Coward, Principal Officer, MPR Associates, Inc.
Clarence Creacy, Startup Proj. Mgr. for NSSS, Oconee Nuclear Station
John R. (Grizz) Deal, CEO Hyperion Power
Joseph Falcon, Past President, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Leo S. Gomez, Sandia National Laboratories, Retired
William H. Hannum, Fellow, American Nuclear Society
James E. Hansen, Member, National Academy of Sciences
Joseph M. Hendrie, Former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Jack I. Hope, Member, President’s Office of Science and Technology, 1971-73. Lead, GE Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Prog.
Ray Hunter, Former Deputy Director, Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, U.S. Department of Energy
Nathan Hurt, Past President, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Reed Johnson, Fellow, American Nuclear Society
Kenneth Kok, Fellow, America
n Society of Mechanical Engineers
Jay F. Kunze, Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Conrad Ladd, Life Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
John W. Landis, Past President of the American Nuclear Society
Eric Loewen, President Elect, American Nuclear Society, Project Engineer, GEH PRISM
Donald E. Lutz, Career engineering for Fast Spectrum Reactors, Enrico Fermi, EBR II, GE Fast Reactor Program, Ret.
Gerald E. Marsh, Fellow, American Physical Society
Harold McFarlane, Past President of American Nuclear Society. Chairman of International Nuclear Energy Academy
Ralph Moir, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, retired. Fellow, American Nuclear Society and American Physical Society
Robert M. Morse, Bechtel Group, retired Manager of International Power Operations. Worked on 15 Nuclear Power Stations Worldwide.
James E. Owens, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Low Intensity Reactor. Tests for first nuclear submarine, Nautilus. Retired
Charles F. Reeves, Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers. Consulting Engineer, Stone & Webster Engineerng Corporation. Retired
Donald R. Riley, Chief Engineer, Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project
A. David Rossin, Past Assistant Secretary of Energy. Past President ANS
John Sackett, American Nuclear Society, Board of Directors
Gary Sandquist, Fellow, American Nuclear Society. Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Edwin D. Sayre, Retired from GE. Worked on nuclear power plants worldwide
Robert Schenter, Fellow, American Nuclear Society
Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut, Geologist, former US Senator, former ranking Republican member of the Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee.
John Shanahan, Light Water Reactors, USA and Switzerland
S. Fred Singer, Fellow, American Physical Society
George S. Stanford, Reactor Physicist Keith Thayer, Past President, American
Society of Mechanical Engineers
Eugene B. Veek, Past member, New York Academy of Science
Alan Waltar, Past President, American Nuclear Society
E.P. “Dennis” Wilkinson, VAdm, USN ret. Commanding Officer United States’ first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus, and surface ship, USS Long Beach
Thomas G. Williamson, Fellow, American Nuclear Society
Clint Wolfe, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, WSRC, retired